The Guardians: Book Two
by William Joyce
“Katherine put an arm around Kailash’s slender neck. ‘Well, her egg was large and silvery, with swirls of pebble-sized bumps that glistened like diamonds and opals,’ she said” (Joyce, 178).
Chapter Twenty-One – Chapter Twenty-Eight
Back in Bunnymund’s tunnel, North decides they should look for the relic they need on their own if the Pooka won’t help. Him and Katherine wander through the tunnels, letting North’s relic guide them. One room they pass through contains hundreds of eggs and their labels, and one label in particular caught my attention: “the green speckled egg of a MESOPOTAMIAN DRAGON” (165). Like Tiamat?
The pair find the relic – a long staff topped by an egg-shaped orb – but Bunnymund stops them from taking it. North accuses him of misusing the relic — it’s supposed to be used for good not kept in a museum display. And Bunnymund’s response is quite…interesting.
He tells North that he knows exactly what the relics are and furthermore that he helped create them. This particular relic holds “the purest light in all creation. Light from the exact beginning of time” (169). This detail is vitally important since the new armor Pitch is creating for him and his Fearlings is impervious and absorbs light. It may be the exact weapon the Guardians will need to defeat Pitch.
In fact, Bunnymund explains that “‘[I]t is the light that all Pookas are sworn to wield and protect. But men, people, cannot be trusted with it. We tried, once, during the Golden Age'” (169). This indicates just what Pooka do and how old Bunnymund must be. Furthermore, it explains where the Constellations got all their magical technology.
Bunnymund continues that Pitch was once a man (so Constellations were just a type of human?) and reveals that
“‘Pookas were gatherers of this light. We brought it to worlds we thought were ready for its power. We thought the people of the Golden Age showed the most promise of all, and they used it well. But then Pitch came. He destroyed everything. He is why I am the last of my kind'” (170).
Bunnymund explains further that he has tried through the eons to invent things to improve the world for humans, including “Spring. Jokes. Summer vacations. Recess. Chocolate'”, but none of it seems to make humans act any better (170). So he has given up on involving himself in human affairs because of how useless it seems.
His question is why should be help them against Pitch when nothing else has ever turned out well? My question is do jokes exist as invented items?
Either way, Katherine’s claim that Pitch doesn’t like chocolate or eggs unsettles Bunnymund enough for him to change his mind. But unfortunately that means Bunnymund working alone.
The story shifts back briefly to Santoff Claussen where Ombric has freed everyone from Pitch’s enslavement spell (Chapter Twenty). He realizes the teeth marks on the remaining pieces of paper from the library mean the bookworm Qwerty ate the books! (Have I mentioned yet that Pitch took the children hostage in exchange for Ombric’s library?)
Back in Bunnymund’s tunnel before an argument can erupt between him and North again, Kailash appears. As it turns out, a Himalayan Snow Goose egg is the only egg Bunnymund is missing. After a description of it, Bunnymund changes his tune; Katherine and North can come along and help. So, Kailash (and her egg) are vital in the plot because they get Bunnymund to agree to work with them.
Elsewhere in Pitch’s hideaway, the children escape their prison and try to contact Nightlight. But it’s hard to know if he can hear them with all the clanging. And this is when we learn the fun fact that Pitch is building armor. There is definitely something creepy about Fearlings donning sunlight-impenetrable armor. Where before Pitch and his Fearlings could only spread terror in the night, with their new armor, they will be able to do so in the waking hours. Just as Pitch wants. Yeesh.
Additionally, the children’s terror makes the earlier parts more emotionally resonate, just like with Kailash. But as the children are growing scared, Nightlight is growing brighter. A signal of the power of hope and light.
The next couple chapters flew by. I did love the stronger focus on Katherine’s POV – how she feels, what she’s thinking and experiencing. It was one of my gripes in Nicholas St. North and the Nightmare King and it’s rectified nicely in Book 2. Also, there’s more character bickering between North and Bunnymund, as well as some character growth for Bunnymund as regards his feelings toward working with others (specifically Katherine and North).
Katherine is captured by Fearlings and Bunnymund eats chocolate which has a very extreme effect on Pookas. (It transforms them in unexpected ways, making them more powerful.) He lets out a yell and Pitch is terrified by
“that extraordinary, otherworldly sound.
He alone among all creatures living had heard that war cry before. It was a sound he’d hoped never to hear again. He remembered it from the time he’d destroyed the Pookan Brotherhood. It was the one battle of the Golden Age he had nearly lost” (206-7).
I love this call back to what Bunnymund referenced. Not only did Pookas grant the Constellations their technological and relics and light, but they were powerful enough that Pitch fears them. Enough to wipe them out. He doesn’t fear anything. (Well, except for pleas to his former humanity.)
I think this speaks to how old Pitch and Bunnymund are. And in Bunnymund’s case, the elastic or unique mind-scape he has, as compared to a human. Just a little imaginative exercise I find fascinating. After all, where’s the fun in writing if you don’t imagine mental states that aren’t foreign to humans? (I don’t really get humans sometimes either way, so it’s not too much of a stretch.)
The battle commences.
Pitch “They’ve got a Pooka with them!” he hissed with alarm (206-7).
Joyce, William. E. Aster Bunnymund and Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.